Monday, November 30, 2015

The Devil's in The Details

Father John Vidmar, O.P.
If you know me then you know I don't bother with details.  I think the "Devil's in the details." means that if you pay attention to details, you'll be driven crazy.  That's my experience.  Perfectionists drive me crazy.  "Good enough!" is my favorite expression.

Anyway, my Lay Dominican Chapter was blessed to have Father John Vidmar, O.P. visit us.  He talked about the Inquisition.  Everything he seemed to say hinged on the details of history.  O.K. I see his point.  My "cloistered brothers" definitely pay attention to details.  There's a huge amount of  difference between Murder One and Murder Two.  In fact, that's the distinction that turned my opinion around.

Since coming to that conclusion, I could see how distinctions are important to teachers.  Academics reward distinctions to give recognition for superior work.  Also, societal class distinctions can be felt, nevermind, seen.

Of course, there are other examples, but I don't want to drive myself crazy distinguishing details.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Your First Christmas Card

Cleverly done!!!

T'was two months before Christmas
When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could
The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would

December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, cheques and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CD's from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa

In hopes to sell books by Fran-ken & Fonda..

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,
Wolf Blitzen

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

not "Happy Holiday "!
Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet

Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

If you agree please forward, if not, simply delete.
Remember we as Christians are to represent what Peace looks like!

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Secret to the Grave

Sometimes we took a short cut walking to school.  A rather dangerous short cut which went across the Spicket River.  I’m talking about the winter time when the river was frozen.   We could save five minutes this way.

It was around 7:15 in the morning.  We had missed the school bus, so we were rushing.  Sliding down the hill with the snow filling our boots wasn’t a concern.  Even knowing that we’d be sitting in school all day with wet feet, we couldn’t take the time to be facetious. 

So we ran and slid and ran to the frozen river.  Again we ran and slid and slipped and ran until Sheila fell.  She fell hard and cried out.

I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong because her cry was full of pain.  I thought she had broken her arm or wrist, but she said it was her shoulder.  I tried to help her get up, but she said not to touch her.  She managed to stand and I carried her book bag. 

We walked slowly to school and believe it or not, we prayed for a miracle.  Sheila’s parents would kill her if they knew we walked across the river.  We could never, ever, tell them.  We prayed for her to be OK.  We even stopped in St. Monica’s Church and prayed.  We bargained with God.  We promised to never cross the frozen Spicket River again if Sheila was healed.

Sheila said she thought the bargain worked because she felt better.  I was hoping this was true because telling our parents we got detention for being late was nothing compared to telling them that Sheila got hurt when she fell on the ice crossing the frozen Spicket.

Unfortunately, God didn’t accept our bargain.  During the morning, Sheila felt worse.  Her shoulder and her whole upper body was in excruciating pain.  She couldn’t fake being OK, any longer.  She needed help.  But we had to make up a story that didn’t get us in trouble.  What would we say?

We couldn’t involve any people because that would get them in trouble.  So I couldn’t have been with Sheila.  That would involve two stories that might be different in the telling, when we were nervous.  The story couldn’t involve falling in school because Sheila’s parents would sue the school, or wherever else she fell.  We decided to say that she fell on a slippery sidewalk, while running to school, because she missed the bus.

That was the final story and she stuck to it.  And I’ll keep the secret to my grave.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Your Safe Place

You must always come in when it rains.  You never know what wet clothes can do.  I mean keeping them on will give you a chill.  And your hair is ruined.

You need a safety place—a place to return to when the clouds open up and attack.  This is the place where you can wait out the rain.

The same is true when trouble attacks you spiritually.  Get out of that mood.  Run to your safe place.  Jesus holds the door open for you.  And this place doesn’t have to be physical.  It can be like St. Catherine of Siena’s cell.  She had an interior place to retreat to when she felt the rain.  That’s what you need.  Otherwise, you’re all wet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rant of the Day

Intruding into my semi-conscious internet surfing are some discussions on weather and newscasters' appearance.  Here's one sample here.  Some of the comments resonated what I've been thinking for years.  But I've never blamed the performer herself.  I blame her costumer, or whoever plans her wardrobe.

When the credits roll, I see who did the hair, makeup, and clothes for the newscaster/weather person.  I blame whoever chooses the "clothes."  If the store who provides the clothes aims to get customers from the show, they've lost me.  Most people buy clothes for work.  The people on television need to reflect that.  If they did, 99% of the time, the women would be wearing pants and tops.  Usually, the women wear dresses that you'd wear to a wedding reception.  And I get that sleeveless is "sexy," but it would be more sensible to have a cardigan or jacket paired with the dress.  In fact, taking the sweater off or putting it on would advertise the clothing.

I'm just criticizing the sensibleness of the wardrobe.  I just want the ladies to wear what I would mostly buy--career type clothes, not the occasional dresses to go clubbing or a wedding reception.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Doing What's Right Isn't Easy

In the King Arthur environmental crusade novel, Warrior Kids: A Tale of New Camelot by Michael J. Bowler , Lance and his cohorts work to change the world.  This is a modern story about today.  It is aimed for kids in the middle grades and thankfully has no embarrassing sexual situations or bad language.  I enjoyed reading it and wish I had a child that age to discuss it.  The culture contributes to today’s environmental mess.  Lance and the knights traverse the glove talking to governmental agencies and authorities.  The problem is that big polluting corporations want the kids out of the way.  A few attempts on Lance’s life are made.  But with the help of Excalibur, the mythical sword, Lance managers to escape.  I think it’s a nice gimmick that the author, Michael J. Bowler has some twelve year-olds as major characters: Billy, Enya, Itzamna, and Chris, yet Lance is eighteen.  Something for every teen and pre-teen. 
Lance has most of the kids in the U.S.A. and maybe the world, on his side.  He’s a celebrity, but fortunately, keeps his head on straight.  Lance addresses Congress and World Leaders as he is threatened and attacked.  He nearly loses his life a few times, and does lose his magical sword, Excalibur.  Excalibur, really is magical, as the reader will discover.  In fact, the story is magically riveting.  Warrior Kids is part of the Children of the Knight series, which you will want to, read all of, just to keep in the loop, but the book stands alone. 
Since the author is a teacher, himself, he made sure Warrior Knights fulfilled all the needs of a reading teacher.  

First, the book is free for educators:
THE eBOOK OF WARRIOR KIDS IS FREE FOR EDUCATORS. It is available in the following formats: PDF, Kindle (mobi), and ePub (Nook and iBooks). In addition, teachers can purchase the paperbacks at the per unit cost of $3.08 (plus shipping and applicable tax.) Educators can contact the author via the Warrior Kids Facebook Group ( or directly by email – For paperback orders, the author will generate an invoice from Createspace (the physical publisher of the book) and payment can be made through PayPal. There is no profit motive and he will earn nothing off the paperbacks sold to teachers. Per unit cost and shipping rates are exactly as Createspace charges him – no markup. As an educator, he has always sought supplemental reading material that would engage his students on important issues. Having found very little, he decided to write one and make it readily available.

I was surprised to see the extensive list of “Extension Activities,” suggested by the Earth Warriors, in the back of the

book.  After that, was a list of references to read for more information.  Even more goodies were suggested.  There

is a list of 50 things to do to help the environment.  I even printed it out, for myself and my family.  The information

on water in plastic bottles was new to me, so I was moved to research the subject.  So even though the book is

geared to Middle School children, I learn a thing or two, besides enjoying a very good story.

Formats: ebook, paperback
Middle Grade
October 6, 2015

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Preparation for Mass

My best prayer time is usually in the morning.  I sit myself down with my prayer book and a cup of coffee.  But sometimes, like today, God wants to talk to me, when He wants to talk.   Tonight, Sunday, I went to a 5:00 PM Mass.  I parked my car at my daughter's house and walked to church.  I was doing this because I didn't exercise today and I was a little bit early for Mass.

I walked up the hill with a brisk pace because there's no sidewalk and it was dusk.  I was worried that motorists would find it hard to see me.  Once at the top, I was out of breath and stopped for a bit.

The Jesus prayer popped into my head.  "Lord Jesus Christ pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death."  I took this thought as a mantra as I walked the rest of the way.  Much to my surprise, my heart beat in rhythm to my steps.  I prayed out loud as well as in my mind and now my heart: "Lord Jesus Christ pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death..."  Everything was in perfect sync.

It occurred to me that perfection in this manner was, indeed, contemplation of God.  I think God was pleased.  I felt happy, and could feel myself smiling as I was now chanting and walking.  All too soon, I was walking   running up the church steps.  I sat in the back and pulled out my rosary.  I had 20 minutes to pray before Mass and I was more than ready.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sometime When You Lose, You Win

We played cribbage tonight.  I lost every single game.  It must be a record.  It's a good thing I wasn't playing seriously.  I didn't put any money up.  I just joined the recreational table because I didn't want to play for hours.  I wanted to get home to watch Boston College play Notre Dame.

Even though I lost, I had a good time and I met some nice people.  I even met a neighbor, who used to "trick or treat" at my house; we even rode the same bus to see the pope. It really is a small world.

Our little "recreational" league laughed much more than the serious players.  We were nicer to each other and we finished playing sooner.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tolerate is Not Agreeing

Just because I tolerate your opinions, doesn't mean that I agree with you.  Think about it.  I tolerate being cold or hot.  It's not what I like or want.  I tolerate it.

If I agree with you, I agree.  It's when I don't agree with you is when I'm tolerating your views.  Just because I don't walk away, or punch you in the face, doesn't mean I agree with you.  I'm tolerating you.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chair Volleyball

We won! It wasn't easy.  Our opponents were formidable.  Their hitters often spiked the ball close to the net and we were hard put to keep one cheek on the chair.  Their servers were very accurate and often assisted in fake serves.

The rotation was strong.  It didn't matter who served, they seem to always set point.  They were expert in quick rolls and the ball often bounced off our heads.  Even the net posts seem to mock us.

But it didn't matter.  Perseverance paid off.  We tired them out.  We just outlasted them.  We won.

See the crowns we winners were given.  Better see the smiles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mass and Healing Service

Father Aniello Salicone, s.x.
My prayer group was blessed tonight.  We went to see an old friend and mentor, spiritual advisor and priest.  Father Aniello Salicone celebrated Mass tonight and had a healing service afterwards.  I don't think he's changed at all.  His hair is thinner and whiter, but so is mine.  He's still the gentle, prayerful priest, I remember.

His teachings tonight were of God's love (of course).  That's his thing.  But he solved a problem that's been bouncing around in my head for awhile. You see one time when I was praying the thought occurred to me that I was kind of wasting my time because what I was praying for was something that God wants, too.  Father Aniello proved statistically that God answers prayers and either gives us what we want or something better.  I don't remember the exact figures, but I remember that we get what we ask for 4% of the time.  Yet 50 % of the time we get something better.  We also don't see immediate results.  Father Aniello quoted St. Theresa of Avila saying,  "Thank God, He didn't give me what I was asking for two days ago.  Because now I don't need it."

Father Aniello also talked of the evil one.  He's the one that causes pain, sickness, division, etc..  So don't blame God.  God only wants good things for His children.

The Holy Spirit was palpable, too.  I could feel Him.  The praising was uplifting.  I also saw some old friends.  God is good--all the time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sympathizing with the Antagonist

Have you ever sympathized with the bad guy in a story?  That's what happened to me in Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson.  I don't think the author intended sympathy for him; it's my make-up and personality that made me identify with the antagonist.

It's not that Otto is likable.  It's that he falls into the same sins that I would have been tempted to do.  I can just see myself doing exactly what he did, during the war.  I'm afraid I'm a coward or more correctly, I'm afraid of being a coward.

Also, I'd also do what Otto did after the war.  I'd try to make up for my wrongdoing by doing good works.  I just self-identify too closely for comfort.

Once We Were Brothers is a good story.  I love the love story between Ben and Hannah.  And I like how everything is neatly tied together.

At first I was annoyed at how long it took Ben to get into the story, just like it annoyed Catherine, his attorney.  But the author, Ronald H. Balson is an attorney himself, so I guess this is what sometimes happens.  Then I got drawn into the tale and then I couldn't put the book down.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Laetamur Magnopere

Don't ask me why, but in helping the catechumens make up a Catholic trivia game, I happened to be using the glossary in the back of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I flipped to the front of the book and read the Apostolic Letter in which the edition of the catechism I was using was approved.
It is called Laetamur Magnopere, written by Pope John Paul II.

I read it.  That's what I meant by my opening statement: "Don't ask me why?"

I just love our Catholic Church.  It is so rich in teaching, history, spiritual  and spiritual exegisis.  There's no end to what you can learn.  I am just amazed how everything relates to each other.

In Laetamur Magnopere I learned that in 1993, Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to preside over an Interdicasterial Commission to prepare a revised version of the first catechism.  Do you know who this Cardinal is?  He became pope--Pope Benedict XVI.

I was also surprised that in 1997, the year Laetamur Magnopere was written, Pope John Paul II wrote, " extraordinary commitment to evangelization is urgently needed so that everyone can know and receive the Gospel message and thus grow...".  Evangelization, evangelization, evangelization, and evangelization!  That's today's rallying cry.  And this was three popes ago!

There's another document after Laetamur Magnopere in this edition of the catechism.  What will I learn from this one?  Stay tuned.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I'm not a detail person.  "Good Enough!" is one of my most usual expressions."  But The Nightingale by Kristan Hannah was so well written, down to the minuteness of details, that she had me drooling.  I see the importance of details in writing, at least.  What a writer!  Her written expression seems so effortlessly done.  The story is about living in occupied France during World War II.  The Nightingale refers to the code name given to the guide who helped people cross over the Pyrenes.

Hannah's descriptions of the hardships endured had me suffering.  And what I particularly noted was the description of cooking.  This is not a book about cooking, nor hardship.  It's a story of two young women and their differences, especially their different ways of approaching the war.  They both get drawn into the battle.  Hannah deftly describes the scenes so well that you're there.  Although, food was rationed, and they grew what they could, the people had to make do.  Being French, I suppose, meant adding spices when cooking.  Even with using only root vegetables, I was drooling over the description of the vegetables braised in the pan.  This made me personally resolve to be a better cook.  If French cuisine can be adhered to during deprivation, then I have no excuse.

I went through my spices and threw out the old to make room for the new.  I plan to try some new ones too.  I'm even thinking of moving the spices to a more convenient reach, so I'll use them more often.

Actually, cooking has nothing whatsoever to do with the book, The Nightingale.  However, it is
a novel that I'm sure will whet your appetite.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cooperation Not Transformation

My co-facilitator asked our group, "How many of you read the Bible?"  The people I was standing next to mumbled their responses, but I distinctly heard, "It's too hard."

He continued on about how much he enjoys reading the Bible every day...blah, blah.

But I couldn't get that short sentence out of my mind, "It's too hard."  What did he mean?

There are all kinds of translations, fer cryin out loud!  You could even read a children's Bible!  What's the matter with people?

I've been thinking about "It's too hard.", all week.  I've come to the conclusion that the person who said that, probably hasn't really tried.  Not really!  The Bible he looked at probably used more difficult language than we commonly use.  That person was simply intimidated.  He looked and gave up.

Obviously, since he came to our Adult Faith Formation, he is open to being transformed.

Mmmmm.  Maybe not.  His heart and mind are open a crack, but not all the way.  He wants what he wants to change and learn, but he's not open to a complete transformation by God.  IOW, he wants God to cooperate with him, not transform him.

This is what we Faith Formation Facilitators have to address before we teach anybody, anything.  People don't want to change that much.  They want to be better people and grow closer to God, but not too fast and on their own terms.

Yesterday was the feast of St. Martin de Tours.  He did many wonderful things.  When he was dying, his followers begged him to fight death.  They wanted Martin to live longer to help them.  This was Martin's prayer:

Lord, if your people still need me, I am ready for the task; your will be done.

How's that for being open to God's Will!  I think our lesson plan should be a lecture on being open to what God wants us to be, not what we want to be.  We need to pray for God to transform us to do His Will, not ours.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Devil's Never Idle

When the Devil’s Idle by Leta Serafim is more than a detective story.  Before reading this novel, I knew nothing about Greece.  Leta Serafim’s descriptions of the country, her explanations of historical events intermingled with Greek mythology, made me fall in love with Greece.  The setting is on the island of Patmos.  You will learn that the evangelist, St. John wrote the Book of Revelation here.  The island is very popular with Greek tourists.  It’s like the snow birds in the US going south for the winter.  German tourists fly to Greece.  It must be a “deal” financially.  It is here that a crime takes place.  A German tourist is murdered with a swastika carved on his forehead.
The detectives are a team.  The leader is Yiannis Patronas.  His cohorts are a fellow policeman and a priest:  Giorgos Tembelos and Papa Michalis.  There’s another.  For comic relief add Evangelos Demos. 

Evangelos is a screw-up.  He is described as “Fat and incompetent, he’d been forced out of the Chios Police Directorate after panicking during a stakeout and shooting up a herd of goats.”  And he is the one who was called in first to investigate the murder.  Evangelos knew enough to call in a more experienced detective.  And that was Patronas.  With Patronas, came the other detective and the priest.  The other detective, Tembelos , helps investigating.  The priest adds an objective, fair, and non-judgmental opinion on history and theology.  Yes, theology!  This is Greece, full of Greek mythology and the history of early Christianity.

Let me be honest.  I don’t usually like novels I can’t identify with.  So I expected to be bored by story.  I thought it would be a lot of background of Greek history, mythology and religion.  Greece never interested me.  I never would want to go there.  So I was taken by surprised by the author, Leta Serafim’s seduction of my senses.  She so deftly interwove the background into the story that I craved to learn more.  The island of Patmos is famous because one of the apostles lived and died there.  St. John was exiled to the island.  The island had currently become a popular tourist spot, especially frequented by Germans.  This fact added a special twist of irony.  The Germans during World War II tried to conquer Greece.  “Couldn’t get here with Hitler, so they bought their way in this time.” P. 4.  At this time, the Greek economy was hitting bottom, so the Greeks had to put up with these “one time enemies.”

The first suspect, Maria Georgiou seemed to be the most likely.  She was an  amicable character, so I didn’t want her to be the murderer.  But the deeper the investigation got, the more likely she looked.  She had every reason to hate and seek revenge on the victim.  Maria was even arrested for the crime.  No one else could have done it.  I won’t spoil the plot for you.  Tracking down the history of the victim and Maria will hook you into wanting to know more.  You will enjoy every well-crafted word, in When the Devil's Idle. Each chapter begins with a Greek Proverb.  Think of this one, as you read:
Second thoughts are ever wiser.

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Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

When the Devil's Idle
 Book Summary:

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder?

Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.

Price/Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Mystery Suspense Thriller
Coffeetown Press
September 1, 2015

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Lee Strobel's Conclusions

Lee Strobel and I used some of the same proofs to settle in our mind, whether or not Jesus is Who He says He is.  It's the apostles' behavior after Jesus' crucifixion that convinces me.  Why would they persist in proclaiming Jesus' resurrection, if it were not true?  There's no money in it?  They all were and remained poor their entire lives.  They were persecuted.  Why go through that unless moved to by the Holy Spirit?  And they all died terrible deaths.  John didn't die violently, as did the others, but he died in exile.

Why, if it all were not true?

Lee Strobel was a successful editor of the Chicago Tribune and an atheist.  His wife told him that she was converting to Christianity.  He set out to prove to her that she was foolish. Instead, he found himself proving to himself that she was right.  His reasons include:
History shows that Jesus Christ lived.
   "            "        "      "         "       was crucified.
   "            "        "      "          "         "   resurrected.  IOW, his tomb was empty.  Was His body stolen?

The only people who would have a motive for stealing Jesus' body would be the disciples.  Breaking into the tomb would involve more than one person. If a few did steal His body, how come they all tell the same story.  No one breaks.  Again, why--there's no money in it, and they're persecuted and die horrible deaths--and still!, they tell the same story.

Many, up to 500 at once, see Jesus after His death.  Yet, the tomb is still empty!  That's called resurrection.   

The Third Death

Today as I was praying and walking through the cemetery , I came across a gravestone that I couldn't see due to the overgrown bush ...